New F&B Design Trends for Hotels in 2018

By Ray Chung Director of Design, The Johnson Studio at Cooper Carry | February 04, 2018

With ever higher guest expectations and a healthy competition developing among hoteliers, hotel restaurants and bars need to stay ahead of trend. How a restaurant or bar looks is equally as important as the quality of the food and service.

It comes as no surprise that we are seeing more of our restaurateur friends inside hotels. In the coming year, expect to see more investment in hotel F&B overall, from the quality of the food to the design of the spaces and the creative repurposing of lobbies and rooftops.

An Investment in Design, by Design

Exciting, unique venues can feature prominently in marketing material and persuade travelers to choose one hotel over a long list that might otherwise all look the same. And as hotels tap into the value of bringing locals (non-guests) into their F&B venues, having the right look is critical. In the era of social media and photo sharing, it is hard to ignore the power of visual appeal.

Hotels are seeing the benefit of investing in highly customized design, especially in public areas like the lobby and F&B venues, where they can concentrate their efforts and still be able to reach all guests and non-guests alike. One aspect of customization has to do with making properties site-specific in some way. Increasingly, both branded and independent hotels look for ways to incorporate traditions that are specific to the city or even the neighborhood. Creating ties to the local community and its history into the design creates a sense of authenticity and fulfills the guest's desire to be somewhere, not just anywhere. And from the point of view of the locals, when this kind of integration is done well, it helps the hotel become a rooted part of the community.

In bars and restaurants, in particular, where people spend considerably more time, more attention is being paid to the details of the design. We are seeing a return to an expression of craft and richness, but not in the traditional ways. Instead of large slabs of marble, there will be carefully proportioned accents. Rather than ornately carved mouldings, precisely detailed joinery. It is a reaction to the bare wood, blackened steel aesthetic that we see everywhere these days from restaurants to workplaces. Going forward, expect to see more comfortable furniture upholstered in gem-toned velvets, exuberant wall coverings and possibly lacquered walls and surfaces.

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Guest Service: A Culture of YES

In a recent global consumers report, 97% of the participants said that customer service is a major factor in their loyalty to a brand, and 76% said they view customer service as the true test of how much a company values them. And since there is no industry more reliant on customer satisfaction than the hotel industry, managers must be unrelenting in their determination to hire, train and empower the very best people, and to create a culture of exceptional customer service within their organization. Of course, this begins with hiring the right people. There are people who are naturally service-oriented; people who are warm, empathetic, enthusiastic, pleasant, thoughtful and optimistic; people who take pride in their ability to solve problems for the hotel guests they are serving. Then, those same employees must be empowered to solve problems using their own judgment, without having to track down a manager to do it. This is how seamless problem solving and conflict resolution are achieved in guest service. This willingness to empower employees is part of creating a Culture of Yes within an organization.  The goal is to create an environment in which everyone is striving to say “Yes”, rather than figuring out ways to say, “No”. It is essential that this attitude be instilled in all frontline, customer-facing, employees. Finally, in order to ensure that the hotel can generate a consistent level of performance across a wide variety of situations, management must also put in place well-defined systems and standards, and then educate their employees about them. Every employee must be aware of and responsible for every standard that applies in their department. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.